Frustration is today’s word. Frustration leading to reflection, and hopefully later action.
Today we had rain, and lots of it. Though I have to admit it was welcome relief from the 30 degree temperatures. Although, due to the rather basic road surfaces in Chișinău it also created an awful lot of mud.
My day on placement definitely had positives; interactions with the clients/service-users/young adults are getting easier and more useful, I had good opportunities to observe their cognitive and processing skills and my supervisor, another staff member and I planned out the next four weeks and I’m being given plenty of opportunity to run sessions (which, in a placement that has a warning of ‘this placement will be mostly observational unless you are able to prove your abilities and experience’, is a very nice opportunity to have).
But… The downsides. I’ve been very aware of the low expectations of the young adults, but I had hoped there would be opportunities to challenge this. My first came today. My supervisor and I were discussing differences between UK and Moldovan services of this type. I explained that an occupational therapist involved in this type of work would be concerned with promoting skills in activities of daily living, finding meaningful occupations on an individual basis as well as working at a pace suited to the individual (where possible, allowing for group work that was more generic). My supervisor did not feel that our clients were capable of this type of work. I felt sad, and frustrated. I know that many of the clients are capable of more. My observations tell me that they have highly developed skills in certain areas (several are glued to their mobile phones just like your ‘average’ teenager) and I believe many are capable of much more than they’ve had the opportunity to do.
I totally understand where this attitude has come from though. There is no state support for people with learning disabilities to live with the level of independence that is right for them. There is also no education or example of people with learning disabilities living full and meaningful lives. It’s the stuff I’ve heard challenged in the UK, and I know some of the same problems exist.
Anyway, I hope I can continue to share with them the type of approach an occupational therapist in the UK might take. Perhaps some parts of it would work within the culture and make a difference.
The remainder of my frustration was saved for the local bank and the challenge of changing travellers’ cheques. Thirty minutes, and a small angry mob of waiting customers behind me and I finally had my Euros, minus the ten Euro fee, that I was able to exchange at a separate currency exchange nearby… Sterling, to travellers’ cheque, to Euro, to Lei. All losing value at each change. Next time I’m just bringing cash!
To end on a positive… Still enjoying the food. Yummy soups (mushroom has been my favourite so far), endless watermelon and peaches, and the nicest pistachio ice cream I’ve ever eaten (ok, as I’d never tried pistachio before that isn’t much of a claim, but it’s amazing!)